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Lacson quizzes PhilHealth's plan to buy new ICT equipment when dozens remain unused

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday questioned PhilHealth's plan to procure more network switches when two dozens supposedly remain boxed and continue to gather dust somewhere in the agency's offices.

During a Senate hearing, Lacson showed a Commission on Audit (COA) query memorandum dated January 31, 2020.

"Kung mayroon kayong unutilized units na nasa box pa bakit kayo magpo-procure ng 15 units na saksakan ng mahal? Hindi niyo nga nagamit eh. Bakit kayo bibili ng 15 units? Kasi malaki overprice?" the senator asked.

Lacson underscored that the COA findings showed 24 network switches were "not utilized and found inside its box."

The said items were not even tested for any manufacturing defects or malfunction, he added.

On the other hand, Calixto Gabuya Jr., acting senior manager of PhilHealth's Information Technology and Management Department, disputed the COA findings.

He said the network switches have already been delivered in regional offices and were already inspected.

"Puwede kasing ginamit na then ibinack ulit doon sa ano," Gabuya said. "'Di po 'yan accurate, it was tested."

"'Yung po kasing mga switches na 'yun chine-check po doon sa head office saka natin idinedeliver sa regional offices," he added.

Lacson said he would rather believe COA's findings.

The Senate also invited COA for the next hearing on the alleged corruption in PhilHealth on August 11.

Earlier, Lacson bared that PhilHealth awarded a P4.8-million contract for 15 units of network switches when the market price was just over P939,000.

The foiled procurement saved the government P3.878 million.

PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, meanwhile, said he assumed his subordinates had followed regular processes before he signed a contract for the allegedly overpriced ICT equipment. —LDF, GMA News